Political Institutions and Economic Growth in Latin America: Essays in Policy, History, and Political Economy

edited by Stephen Haber
Friday, June 16, 2000

Political Institutions and Economic Growth in Latin America offers a new contribution to the literature on institutions and growth through the analysis of historical cases of institutional change and economic growth in Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors base their approach on the New Institutionalism—a body of theory that posits that the specific features of regulation exert powerful effects on the efficiency of firms and markets. Using three key analytic perspectives—historical, economic, and political—the authors provide both insights about the economic performances of real-world economies and a methodological framework for further research. Closely analyzing the performance of an economy over time, the authors explain the following cases, among others:

  • The political decisions and policymaking that reduced the international movement of capital in Latin American countries and steered their economies off the path of economic development
  • How the Cuban sugar industry went into decline as a direct result of state-sponsored institutional changes in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Why persistent inequality in income and wealth Latin America led to inequality in education—and ultimately damaged economic development
  • How specific political rules produce particular economic results—through an insightful analysis of the evolution of government subsidies and the regulation of railroads in Brazil during the nineteenth century
  • Why the Brazilian textile industry enjoyed a period of extensive and intensive growth in the 1890s when the newly founded republic reduced restraints on the banking system

This book illuminates the history of economic growth and stagnation in this important region.

Copyright 2000.